Changes in Fall Rates From Before to During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Findings From the Prospective AMBROSIA Study

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2023 Mar 30;78(4):624-629. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glac131.


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) social distancing policies resulted in reductions in community movement, however, fall rates during this time have not been described.

Methods: This prospective study included adults ≥65 years old participating in the Ambulatory Blood Pressure in Older Adults (AMBROSIA) cohort and who completed ≥1 monthly falls calendar (August 2019-March 2021; n = 250). Months were grouped to correspond to the fall 2020 phased reopening (August-October) and the shelter-in-place policy during the winter 2020 surge (November-January) in Los Angeles, California and compared to the same months, 1 year earlier (ie, before the pandemic).

Results: Participants had a mean (standard deviation [SD]) age of 75.2 (6.1) years, 49.6% were White, and 53.2% were women. We obtained 2 795 falls calendars during follow-up. Overall, 110 (44.0%) participants reported a total of 421 falls (rate 15.1 per 100 calendar months). The highest monthly fall rate during the pandemic was 22.9 (95% confidence interval [CI] 16.4-31.1) per 100 calendar-months in August 2020. The lowest fall rate during the pandemic was 8.6 (95% CI 3.5-17.8) per 100 calendar-months in February 2021. During the pandemic, fall rates in August, September, and October 2020 were higher than the previous year (rate ratio 1.8 [95% CI 1.1-2.9]), and fall rates in November and December 2020 and January 2021 were lower than the previous year (rate ratio 0.5 [95% CI 0.4-0.8]).

Conclusion: As the pandemic continues and older adults resume community mobility after a shelter-in-place period, providers should pay attention to the risk of falls.

Keywords: COVID-19; Falls; Older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls
  • Aged
  • Ambrosia*
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring, Ambulatory
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Prospective Studies